Kenyon College homepage Department of Religion
Mary Suydam 

Religious Studies 225: The New Testament

Prof. Mary Suydam Fall 2002
Class: MWF 11:10 - 12
Phone PBX 5067
Ascension 309
Office Hours: T-Th 10-12

Links Selected Handouts
  Glossary of Terms
New Testament Gateway Ten Commandments of Essay Writing
From Jesus to Christ (PBS) Film Viewing Guidelines
Online Greek Bible The Academic Study of Religion
Hyperhistory Online Twenty Rules Not to Follow
Jesus Seminar Comparison of Mark and Paul
A Synoptic Gospel Primer Timeline of Jewish Biblical History
E-Res and Course Reserve (LBIS) Passion Timeline: Mark, Matthew, John
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary Formation of the Jesus/Christ Myth

Goals of the Course: This course is an introduction to the New Testament, focusing primarily on the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and some of the letters of Paul. We will learn how these books came to be written, who wrote them, and their intended audiences. We will learn about some of the methodologies (source, form, and redaction criticism) that scholars use to study the New Testament. We will study the many (and sometimes competing) approaches to Christianity within the ancient world. We will particularly focus upon differing views of Jesus and his message within the New Testament.

Required Texts:

Harper Collins Study Bible.

Gospel Parallels. B. Throckmorton (Nelson Press), 5th edition.

From Jesus to Christ. Paula Fredriksen (Harper-Collins Press).

Lost Christianities. Bart Ehrman.. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Suggested Texts (we will be reading portions of these texts):

Who Wrote the New Testament? Burton Mack. (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1995).

Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet. Bart Ehrman. (New York: Oxford University Press,).

There will also be E-res and Course Reserve Readings.

Class Format: This class is organized as a collaborative exploration with the professor as guide. There will be occasional presentations by the teacher. Classes will focus on serious discussion of the readings. You should come to class each day prepared to discuss the reading for that day. You should also bring the relevant reading materials. Plan especially on bringing the Bible and Gospel Parallels every day. Some classes will begin with a problem-solving or analytical exercise related to the topic to be discussed in class. Then we will discuss our theories and strategies. There will also be weekly written assignments (see below).

Course Requirements:

1. Attendance and Participation: 20%. Regular attendance is a requirement of this course. This course is structured as a collaborative exchange of information between students and professor. The format of the class is a combination of lecture and discussion, with emphasis on discussion and exploration of texts together. Active discussion of the topics is a critical component of this class. If you are present for every class but never say a word, that is a C. Missing more than two classes will lower your final grade by one full point (B becomes C, for example). You will be given written feedback on your participation midway through the course.

2. Weekly writing assignments: 20% There will be weekly writing assignments each week to aid in preparing for discussions of the texts. These assignments will focus on the methodology for reading the texts and your discoveries as you apply these critical tools.

3. Exegesis Paper: 20%. This will be a critical examination of a portion of New Testament text. For detailed instructions on this assignment, click Exegesis Paper Instructions. Exegesis papers are due October 11.

4. Group Project: 20%. This project will allow you to apply what you have learned in the course to a specific topic related to contemporary debates about the New Testament. The reason there are debates is because there is conflicting evidence on these issues within the New Testament texts. As a group you will have to analyze the relevant texts for your topic, study some competing views about these texts, come to an informed decision about them, and present your findings to the rest of the class. For a list of topics and detailed instruction on this assignment, click Group Project Instructions. Class presentations will occupy the last week of class. The information presented will be part of the material on the final exam. See List of Group Members.

5. Final Exam: 20%. The final exam will test your ability to think critically about the texts you have studied, including aspects of the class presentations. It will be an open book exam.

Topics and Reading Assignments

Week 1, August 26, 28, 30: The New Testament World

Readings: From Jesus to Christ, chapters 2,4, 5

Assignment: gospel beginnings: compare the actual beginnings of each gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) with your original ideas about how they begin or ought to begin. Write a 1-2 page paper about your reactions to this comparison: surprises, questions, issues you would like to know more about.

Week 2, September 2,4,6: Composition of the New Testament

Readings: From Jesus to Christ, chapter 1

The Lost Gospel of Q, chapters 1-2

E-res: Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet (Bart Ehrman)

Assignment: The triple tradition: Gospel Parallels #52, pages 42-43

Week 3, September 9, 11, 13: Q

Readings: The Lost Gospel of Q, chapters 5-7

Gospel Parallels, #167, 2, 18, 19

Assignment: The double tradition: Gospel Parallels, 26, 27, and 35.

Week 4, September 16, 18, 20: Form Criticism


Readings: Gospel Parallels, #69, 53-54, 86

Week 5: September 23, 25, 27: Paul

Readings: From Jesus to Christ, chapter 8

Assignment: Pauline terminology

Week 6: September 30, October 2,4: Paul and Mark


Monday: E-Res, Burton Mack, Paul's Letters to the Greeks and Romans

Paul's Letter to the Romans

Wednesday: From Jesus to Christ, chapter 6 and 177-185

Gospel Parallels, #91, 93, 95

Assignment: Gospel Parallels, #105, 106


Week 7: October 9, 11: The first Christian communities

Exegesis Papers due Friday, October 11

Choose Topics for Group Presentation.

Week 8: October 14, 16, 18: Mark continued

Readings: From Jesus to Christ, 44-52

Lost Gospel, chapter 9

Assignments for Wednesday and Friday: Passion Narrative

Week 9: October 21, 23, 25: Matthew

Readings: From Jesus to Christ, 185-191, 36-44

Lost Gospel, chapter 10

Week 10: October 28, 30, Nov. 1: Luke

Readings: From Jesus to Christ, 191-198, 27-36

Course Reserve: Ehrman, Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet, chapters 8-10

Assignment for Wednesday: Themes in Luke

Meet with instructor to go over data for group presentations.

Week 11: Nov. 4, 6, 8: John

Readings: From Jesus to Christ, 198-204, 19-26

Study Assignment for Wednesday: Themes in John

Study Assignment for Friday: Johannine Dualism

Week 12: Nov. 11, 13, 15: The New Testament in context: Acts

Study Assignment for Monday: John's Passion Narrative

Study Assignment for Wednesday: Read the first four chapters of the Book of Acts. Jot down three major themes that are established.

Read also: E-res: Mack, Who Wrote the New Testament, chapter 9: "Inventing Apostolic Traditions"

Study Assignment for Friday: Read the book of Acts, chapters 5-13.

Readings: Lost Gospel, chapter 11

From Jesus to Christ, chapter 10

Week 13: Nov. 18, 20, 22: Early Christian Communities



I and II Timothy; Titus; James

E-Res: Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (chapter 14)

E-Res: Pagels, Gnostic Gospels, "The Controversy over Christ's Resurrection"


Lost Gospel, chapters 12-13

Colossians, chaps 1-4; Hebrews, chapters 5-10.

Assignment: Visions of the Cosmic Christ

Friday: E-Res, non-Canonical gospels

November 20: Dress Rehearsal: Groups 1 and 2

Thanksgiving Break

Weeks 14 and 15: December 2, 4, 6, 9: Class Presentations:

December 2: The New Testament and Anti Semitism

December 2: Dress Rehearsal: Groups 3 and 4

December 4: The New Testament and Women

December 6: The New Testament and "Family Values"

December 9: The New Testament: Peace or War?

Final Exam